This talk was recorded at the Institute
for Critical Animal Studies Oceania 2017 Conference in Melbourne. You can find
out more information about this conference here: http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/oceania-conference/
listen to other talks from this conference here.
Below is further information about the
talk from the conference booklet, available here: http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/booklet/
What does Health at Every Size mean for vegan activism?
Traditionally, most campaigns encouraging veganism, focus on
weight loss as a health
benefit, to a greater or lesser extent. Most of us are
familiar with PETA’s horrible campaigns such as their ‘Save the Wales, Lose the
Blubber’ billboards. However, even Animal Liberation Victoria include obesity
as a health risk on their 30-day challenge website.
There are several issues with this approach that need to be
The first is that fat shaming has been demonstrated to be
counterproductive in terms of getting people to lose weight and that people who
suffer weight discrimination or are shamed about their weight are mostly likely
to put on weight.
Additionally, up to 3 quarters of women exhibit some form of
disordered eating and are therefore likely to be harmed by implications that
cutting certain foods (non-vegan foods) out of their diet will help them to
lose weight. Diet culture actively harms people by implying that being thinner
is better and is important for worthiness. Do we want to contribute to this
toxic culture with our advocacy?
But the most relevant and important point that needs to be
considered is that there is
overwhelming evidence that weight is not an indicator of
health. So, claiming that being vegan will lead to weight loss and therefore
better health, is using a faulty premise to make an unprovable claim.
There is a pattern termed the ‘obesity paradox’ in the
literature because the findings
continue to be inconsistent with the accepted knowledge and
assumptions that are made about obesity and its correlation with health
I think that we need to start a conversation here about
whether a health focus at all is
beneficial to veganism and animal rights activism and we
definitely need to throw any claims that weight loss = positive health outcomes
Bos, an accountant and basketball mum by day and 9-year vegan. Have
completed an online Intuitive Eating Fundamentals course with Christy
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